I disembark the Megabus in Boston right on time, with the whole day to myself. I stow my luggage and wander into the city, picking a road and ending up near the arched entrance to Chinatown. Skirting this neighborhood, because I’d be led in the wrong direction, I make my way to the center of the city — the Boston Common. Naturally, my Seattle nose, urged on by a Seattle brain, sniffs out the best coffee, and I curl up on a sunken brown couch in the Boston Common Coffee Company for my introvert blogging recharge time. The cashier asks me if I went to Emerson University, acting like he knows who I am. Instant local.
After a sufficient amount of caffeine and plugged-in time, I set out on the Freedom Trail, armed with a 4$ app and a 3$ map to find my way from dead hero to church to dead hero. I meet the ghosts of Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, John Hancock…all the soldiers and founding fathers, and the two or three famous women…
I also run into my new favorite store. When I was little, I fell asleep to the book on tape editions of Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings at least thrice a week. Little did I remember, Robert McCloskey was from Boston and has a store named after his work.
I pass through Quincy Market, which distracts me long enough that I never make it to the next stop on the Trail (Paul Revere’s House). A street show, featuring very loud speakers blaring “Gangnam Style” and a group of break dancers, greets me at the entrance. I stop to watch, surrounded by kids on a field trip who are supposed to be more interested in the historical square in which they stand — where the Boston Tea Party-goers got all riled up. History, predictably, loses to K-Pop. When they leave with their chaperones, I also leave, heading deeper into the market. Urban Outfitters, souvenir stands with jewelry and Boston boxers and fancy twisted paper lamps…food stalls sending delicious smells wafting through the air…I soak it all in.
I realize my proximity to the harbor and head there, called by the sea air, which I can already feel. I find a bench right next to the water’s edge, and sit and stare out at the Atlantic — all the sailboats, moored and bobbing at the dock. I watch the comings and goings of the water taxi, transporting people laden with baggage to nearby islands? other spots on the coast? The seagulls cry overhead and I can smell salt and fish. An old man with a satchel tries to sell me a newspaper that helps the homeless. I start dreaming of clam chowder, real New England clam chowder, but I can’t bring myself to leave the harbor. It’s like Seattle’s harbor but less industrial, and it’s bathed in sunlight and chilled by the crisp, autumnal Boston air.
Finally my hunger for a regionally appropriate lunch drags me off the bench. I head back toward Quincy market, where I’d seen rows and rows of food stalls earlier that day. Sure enough, there it is — The Chowda Company. I buy some chowda from a man with a Bostonian accent and sit outside to eat it, next to the outdoor games area. I rip and dump my oyster crackers, scooping one up for a delicious creamy-crunchy-soupy bite.
At first, I watch a family play ping pong. Then I become so absorbed in my chowda that I only look up when I hear….French!?
Sure enough, there are three French people — about my age — who have started a game of ping pong. I eavesdrop, wishing slightly that I could go home with them after their East Coast vacation is over. But only slightly, as my own East Coast vacation has shown me how much I love traveling in the U.S., and how many places here I still haven’t seen…
I spend over an hour at Quincy Market, watching. An awkward young couple plays chess. Some Irish boys in green sweatshirts run by (those accents, though…). I hear more European tourists speak German, British, French, Russian, as they pass me.
Finally, it’s time to meet my friends/hosts. I walk back to the city center and discover my other favorite place, and the setting of Make Way for Ducklings: the Boston Public Garden.
I hope it’s obvious from my writing how much I loved Boston. [I’m trying a thing where I show and don’t tell, in an effort to improve my writing/try new things.]
Seeing study abroad friends, aka surfing on their couch, was fantastic. Sometimes it takes a visit to remember that faraway friends are still friends. Hospitality strikes again. I hope to return the favor by showing off Seattle!
In the words of Augustana, “I think I’ll go [back] to Boston…”
There I am, relaxing in Hahvahd Yahd.